‘Hedda Gabler’ makes big impression
Posted Sept. 12, 2008
Erin Brockman
Joshua Prisk and Rachel Ortiz rehearse a scene from “Hedda Gabler,” a 19th century play by Henrik Ibsen. Prisk played George Tesman, and Ortiz played Aunt Tesman. “Hedda Gabler” is the senior performance thesis of Tanya Wilkins, who appeared in the play as Hedda herself. The play was presented on the main stage of Dailey Theatre at the University of La Verne, Sept. 4-6.

When the lights dim, and the play has ended, audience members take a deep breath and return to the real world outside of the one the University of La Verne department of theater arts has created during the production of “Hedda Gabler.”

The dramatic and haunting tone of the performance kept the audience entranced for the entire duration of the play.

The show, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1890, still holds enough universal truths to captivate somewhat hard to please college students.

“Hedda Gabler,” staged Sept. 4-6 in Dailey Theater, is the story of a bitter woman who attempts to control and dominate the people around her.

She is hardly a sympathetic character, but the acting, done by Tanya Wilkins in the title role, helped to create a tense and troubled woman who is lifelike and honest.

Wilkins put together the show for her senior performance thesis, and it was most likely her drive and passion that produced such a stellar show.

In the program for the show, Wilkins said that she chose this play because Hedda is “the epitome of broken fantasies and shattered emotions that we as human beings endure in our own lives.”

Without Wilkins’ strong performance (acted with great attention to detail), the play surely would have hit many false displays of characters from the 1800s.

Other actors in the play turned in great character studies.

Adam Evans, a senior theater arts major, played the central role of Judge Brack. Evans treated the audience to a skilled and subtly sleazy performance, and Jennifer Scarr, a sophomore theater major, shone as Thea Elvstead, the woman unfortunate enough to attract attention from Hedda.

Other more minor characters did seem one-note, but not for lack of effort on the part of the actors.

Perhaps one of the show’s most impressive aspects was the lighting, designed by Malina Rodriguez.

The stage was often bathed in eerie blue light, creating a crazy-inspired insight into Hedda’s mind. Large white sheets were hung from floor to ceiling onstage.

Scenes took place in front of the curtains, but during some parts of the show, characters could be seen behind them interacting with each other.

This opened up the set to allow for more visibility of the actors and created a truly memorable last scene at the height of the play’s drama.

The production was a remarkable take on a classic play, and because it was put on within the first week of classes, the entire cast and crew should be extremely proud of the end result.

With less than half the seats filled on Friday evening, it was sad to note that the extensive work and long hours contributed by the cast and crew were appreciated by only a few ULV community members.

However, the play was such an impressive undertaking, that the empty seats didn’t deter from the production itself.

Future shows from the Theater Department include “This Is All Fiction” and “The Madman and the Nun” on Oct. 16-18, “Noises Off” during the last two weekends in November, and “Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You In the Closet and I’m Feeling So Sad” on Dec. 11-13.

For more information, visit www.ulv.edu/theatre or call 909-593-3511, ext. 4386.

Erin Konrad can be reached at erin.konrad@laverne.edu.

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